Keen Trail-Running Flat

In a major diversion from its usual design, Keen will soon introduce the A86 running shoe. Instead of an oversized toe guard and a thick sole, the A86 draws inspiration from racing-flat running shoes. It is light (9 ounces per foot!), flexible, and fast.

Keen A86

I got an early test pair, and darn if I am not liking this shoe. It’s marketed as having a “glove-like fit and feather-light feel.” So far, I agree. From its breathable mesh upper and light PU midsole to its dot matrix of 3mm traction lugs, the shoe has proven to be fast and fun on trail runs up to five miles long.

Close-up of the toe guard

Don’t expect Keen’s traditional toe protection with this model. There’s only a small bumper on the front. And many runners will find the flexible A86 too minimal for long runs. But sprinters, barefoot-style converts, and anyone who likes a minimal shoe (I am raising my hand) will be happy to lace up in the A86.

Available in January 2011 for $90.

—Stephen Regenold